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Burning questions for Saturday's season-opening college football games

Sportsnaut logo Sportsnaut 8/23/2019 Jesse Reed, Sportsnaut
a man standing in front of a crowd © Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

College football is finally here again, ladies and gentlemen. Two games Saturday evening kick off the 2019 season, and one of them is a big one.

Game 1: Starting things off, Miami and Florida will go head to head.

Game details: Here’s a look at the start time, television information and odds for Saturday night’s Miami vs. Florida game.

  • When: 7:00 p.m. EST
  • Where: Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL
  • TV: ESPN
  • Betting Line: Florida (-7) / Over-Under (46 points)

The big picture: This is a game that should tell us whether the Gators are truly worthy of their No. 8 overall rank. Both teams feature strong defenses and questionable offensive lines, so it could be ugly right out of the gate.

These are the burning questions for Miami vs. Florida on Saturday night.

How will Jarren Williams handle the bright lights?

a group of baseball players standing on top of a field © Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

First-year head coach Manny Diaz shocked many when he announced redshirt freshman Jarren Williams is opening the season as Miami’s starting quarterback. He won the job over Ohio State transfer Tate Martell, who was favored to win the job, and last year’s starter for six games, N’Kosi Perry.

Williams saw very little action last year as a true freshman, attempting just three passes as a reserve. Now in his second year at Miami, he’s the face of a program attempting to resuscitate itself after a rough 2018 season under Mark Richt.

We know the talent is there for Williams to spark Miami’s offense. He is a former top-10 prospect out of Georgia who was rated a four-star dual-threat quarterback in 2018. Now he has to prove it on the brightest stage during the only game on television on Saturday night. The pressure will be intense. Can Williams handle it?

Florida’s defense is no joke, and the Canes’ offensive line could be overwhelmed in a big way. How Williams performs in this game should tell us quite a bit about the young man and Miami’s offensive capabilities in 2019.

Is Florida’s offense ready to take the next step?

a close up of a baseball player holding a bat © Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in his career at Florida, Feleipe Franks is the undisputed starter for the Gators. As a sophomore in 2018, he showed tremendous growth across the board, passing for 24 touchdowns with just six interceptions. Yet if Florida is going to live up to its preseason hype, Franks needs to be more than just solid. He needs to become a legitimate star.

It’s not all on Franks this year, though.

With senior running back Lamical Perine and senior receiver Van Jefferson both returning to Florida for one final campaign, Franks has weapons at his disposal.

However, Florida’s offensive line is replacing four starters from last year’s unit, including second-round pick Jawaan Taylor. It will be tested against a tough Miami defensive front Saturday night. If this young front unit can solidify quickly, the Gators may finally have an explosive, consistent offensive attack in 2019.

Kevin Sumlin wearing a baseball hat © Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Game 2: Kevin Sumlin’s Arizona Wildcats play in Honolulu against the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. Whereas Miami vs. Florida should feature plenty of defense, this one should be an offensive shootout.

Game details: Here’s a look at the start time, television information and odds for Saturday night’s Arizona vs. Hawaii game.

  • When: 10:30 p.m. EST
  • Where: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, HI
  • Betting Line: Arizona (-11.5) / Over-Under (73.5 points)

These are the burning questions for Arizona vs. Hawaii Saturday night.

Can Khalil Tate get back to his 2017 form?

© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

During the summer months leading up to the 2018 college football season, Tate was mentioned among the top contenders for the Heisman Trophy. His second-half surge in 2017 was remarkable, as he put up incredible stats every week.

Unfortunately, injuries completely derailed his 2018 campaign, along with all his Heisman hype.

It’s worth noting, though, that Tate surged in the final four games of last season with 15 passing touchdowns. If Sumlin unleashes Tate in the run game, and if the senior builds upon the success he had in the passing game late last year, then Arizona’s offense should be electric in 2019.

Will the Rainbow Warriors pull off the early-season upset?

a man with a football ball © Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Though Arizona is favored to win by close to two touchdowns, you’d be foolish to count out the Rainbow Warriors.

Hawaii’s offense is led by the always-dangerous Cole McDonald, who put up 3,875 yards and 36 touchdowns through the air last year. It also returns a couple of very productive receivers in Cedric Byrd and JoJo Ward, who combined for 130 receptions, 1,835 yards and 18 touchdowns last year.

Should Tate and the Wildcats get off to a slow start, Hawaii could easily pull ahead and stay ahead with its foot on the gas pedal. Head coach Nick Rolovich had his team playing well last season and will be eager to prove it wasn’t a fluke.

Related slideshow: Preseason coaches top 25 poll (provided by USA Today Sports)


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